Saints open minicamp without Brees, with pro rugby player

Metairie, La. -- Sean Payton will be the first to downplay the absence of Drew Brees at minicamp.

"We still start at the same time," Payton said. "We're still going to play with the brown round balls. We're going to kick field goals."

The bigger point of emphasis is the opportunity this gives the back-up quarterbacks to take first team reps.

"For me it's just being able to get the opportunity to operate with the first team," said Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. "I've had the opportunity to go out there and practice against the starting defense. That's been very fun. It's been challenging and we've had some great days."

There was also a buzz Tuesday around Tristan Blewett, a South African Rugby player with NOLA Gold, who the Saints are working out this week. He's never played football before and is learning the sport on the fly.

"There are so many technical things," Blewett said. "Like every guy has a different job, different movement. There's a call on everything and different movements. It's a lot to take-in but I'm starting to understand the movements of things but the technicalities will probably take a little bit of time."

"Yesterday was the first time he'd ever, in a workout, done anything relative to this sport," Payton said. "But look, we're looking at him for three days as a safety. He's a guy that the vision would be for special teams, that type of thing. For him, to his credit, he's starting from square one. The first time we get out and stretch today is the first time he's stretched relative to this sport. But he seemed pretty bright yesterday just picking-up the drills we were asking."

And as Blewett's picking everything up, his family will be too.

"I don't think they really understand," Blewett said. "I told my mom about a day or two ago but I think no one back home really knows much of football. Neither do it. I think as I learn I'll sort of explain it to them."

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